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December 26, 1998

Virginia vs. Delaware
December 27, 1998 – 7:30 p.m.
University Hall – Charlottesville, Va.

The Series vs. Delaware
Virginia holds a 9-1 lead in the series against Delaware and has won the last eight games in the series. Despite the fact the series is only 10 games old, the Blue Hens are a long-time opponent for the Cavaliers. The series began in Charlottesville on February 21, 1921, with Virginia winning 26-22.

Nearly 41 years passed before the two teams met again. Delaware got its lone win in the series with an 89-88 win on January 29, 1962 in Charlottesville.

The rivalry took another 14-year break before the teams resumed play. Virginia got back on the winning track against the Blue Hens with a 78-65 win in Charlottesville during the 1975-76 season.That was the first of six consecutive seasons the two teams met, with Virginia winning all six games. Virginia won both games played in Newark (1978, 1981).

This is the third consecutive season the two teams have met. After a 16-year hiatus the series resumed two years ago as Virginia won 76-66 in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers won last season’s meeting 64-57 in Newark.

Several current Cavaliers helped spark UVa to victory last season. Donald Hand tossed in 10 points and grabbed five rebounds, both career-highs at the time, in that game. Chezley Watson started at point guard and handed off a team-leading four assists.

It is interesting to note that Delaware is one of just 21 schools to have played on all three of the Cavaliers’ home courts over the years. Fayerweather Hall served as the initial home floor for Virginia basketball. Built in 1893, it housed the Cavaliers from the initial season in 1906 through the 1922-23 season. Memorial Gymnasium replaced Fayerweather as home of the Cavalier cagers for the 1923-24 season. It was home for Virginia for over 40 years until University Hall opened for the 1965-66 season.

Cavaliers vs. the America East Conference
This is Virginia’s second game this season against a team from the America East Conference (formerly known at the North Atlantic Conference). The Cavaliers defeated New Hampshire 93-52 three weeks ago. The Cavaliers are 17-3 all-time against the 10 teams currently in the America East.

This is the third season in a row the Cavaliers have faced an America East school. They have defeated Delaware the last two seasons, as well as the win over New Hampshire earlier this month.Virginia is 4-0 vs. Towson State, 1-0 vs. Hartford, New Hampshire and Northeastern, 9-1 vs. Delaware and 1-2 vs. Hofstra. The Cavaliers have never faced Boston University, Drexel, Maine or Vermont.

Opponents Shoot Blanks at University Hall
Virginia is 32-7 against non-conference opponents at University Hall over the last six seasons. Among the reasons the Cavaliers have been so successful in non-conference games is their ability to out-shoot and out-rebound the other team.

In their wins, the Cavaliers have shot 46.3 percent from the field compared to 36.6 percent for the opposition. Virginia also out-rebounds the other team by more than 10 rebounds per game (44.4/g to 34.2/g).

In contrast, the tables are turned in Virginia’s home losses. The opponents shoot much better than Virginia (43.2 percent vs. 37.2 percent) and out-rebound the Cavaliers by a wide margin (44.7/g to 32.4/g).

Three of the five-highest shooting percentages by non-conference opponents on Virginia’s home floor the last six seasons have come in Virginia losses. Liberty shot 50.0 percent last season and stunned UVa 69-64. Ohio shot 47.4 percent in a 94-83 win during the 1994-95 season, while Connecticut shot 46.3 percent in winning the 1993-94 season opener.

Only 13 of the last 39 non-conference opponents to come to University Hall have managed to make more than 40 percent of their field goal attempts.

Lack of Depth Presents Problems
One area of concern for head coach Pete Gillen is the lack of depth of his Cavalier squad. The roster features just seven scholarship players (of whom only six are currently healthy) and seven walk-ons.

Virginia managed to build a double digit lead in each of the first nine games of the season, but lost three games in the closing moments with fatigue caused by lack of depth a factor.

The problem was particularly evident at the Top of the World Classic in Alaska. In the first round game against Arkansas, Virginia built an early 10-point lead and maintained a lead until midway through the second half. The Razorbacks’ depth proved to be too much as the Cavaliers ultimately lost 85-83.

The following afternoon against Wisconsin, Virginia was really in a bind. Three starters became ill prior to the game (Willie Dersch, Kris Hunter, Chris Williams). Hunter missed the game entirely, while Dersch and Williams weren’t at full strength. Nonetheless, Virginia built a 10-point lead early in the second half before the Badgers’ superior size and depth prevailed down the stretch. The Cavaliers made only five field goals in the second half and lost 66-56.

The final game in Alaska against Washington State also proved to be a nailbiter. The Cavaliers held an 18-point lead seven minutes into the second half (50-32) before going scoreless for 11:02. Washington State used the UVa drought to go on a 15-point run to cut the lead to 50-47. Donald Hand canned a huge three-pointer with 2:26 left to cut the Cougars’ momentum as UVa held on to win 62-53.

Virginia held a 14-point lead with just over seven minutes remaining against Florida State in its ACC opener, but lost 72-69 when the Seminoles rallied down the stretch.

“Fun N Gun” Off and Running
New head coach Pete Gillen’s coaching philosophy is to employ an up-tempo style of play. He favors a running and pressing tempo that enables his teams to have fun and lets the players use their creative talents. Gillen’s philosophy is in contrast with the style of play of the last 25 years or so in Charlottesville.

Gillen’s “fun and gun” style is off to a flying start so far this season. The Cavaliers are averaging 83.3 points per game, while forcing 19.3 turnovers per game.

Virginia is also shooting 46.8 percent from the field and is getting a lot of shots in transition (such as lay-ups and easy buckets underneath).

UVa topped the century mark with 116 points vs. Hampton and followed that with 106 points against Elon, marking the first time since the 1989 NCAA Tournament that UVa has had back-to-back 100-point games. The Cavaliers have topped 80 points in seven games this season, the most they have done that since doing so 13 times in 1994-95.

Non-Conference Teams at University Hall
Virginia is 173-27 (.865) all-time in U-Hall against non-conference opponents since the building opened for the 1965-66 season.The Cavaliers have won 55 of their last 63 home games against non-conference opponents dating back to the 1989-90 season (basically this decade).

Rookie Williams Makes Early Impression
Chris Williams’ collegiate career consists of just 11 games, but so far he’s made quite an impression.

In his collegiate debut he did something only one other UVa freshman has ever done–record a double-double in his debut. Williams scored 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds as Virginia defeated Virginia Commonwealth. (For the record, Scott Johnson in 1995-96 is the other UVa rookie to achieve a double-double in his debut.)

The player his teammates call “Big Smooth” added to his accomplishments by erasing Ralph Sampson’s name from the record book in one area recently. Williams tossed in a career-high 34 points against Liberty, breaking the previous UVa rookie record of 32 points by Sampson.

Williams pulled down 15 rebounds vs. VMI on Tuesday, the most by a UVa freshman in more than 18 years (since the days of Sampson.)The Birmingham, Ala., native has led the Cavaliers in scoring in two of the last three contests and in rebounding in the last four.Williams leads the team in a variety of categories–scoring (tied at 18.5 ppg), rebounding (8.1 rpg), steals (2.5 spg) and field goal shooting (51.9 percent). Additionally, he is second in both blocked shots (12) and assists (28).

He has scored at least 20 points four times and owns all three of UVa’s double-doubles.

Rookies Providing Scoring Punch

Two of Virginia’s top three scorers this season are freshmen–Chris Williams and Adam Hall.Williams is tied for the team lead with an 18.5-ppg average, while Hall is third at 13.1 ppg.There have been several occasions this season where the rookies have ranked 1-2 or 1-3 in scoring for Virginia.The duo led the way against Hampton on November 25. Hall poured in a career-high 27 points, while Williams added 21 points.Their performance marked only the second time since 1972-73 (when freshman eligibility was restored) that two Cavalier rookies scored 20+ points in a game. Cory Alexander scored 24 and Junior Burrough 22 against North Carolina on February 19, 1992.Add walk-on freshman Cade Lemcke’s three points and UVa’s rookies scored 51 points vs. Hampton. That is the UVa record for combined freshmen scoring in a game. The previous record was the combined 46 points by Alexander and Burrough in that 1992 game against North Carolina.

Bomb Squad Finds the Mark
Due mainly to the presence of NCAA three-point record-holder Curtis Staples, Virginia has been known recently as a team that shoots a lot of three-pointers.

The Cavaliers made just two (in 13 attempts) in the season opener against VCU.

Since then the Cavaliers are averaging 8.3 three-pointers per game, with 83 in the last 10 contests.

At their current rate, the Cavaliers would set a school record for most three-pointers per game. The 1994-95 squad holds the current record with 6.8 triples per game.

The UVa bomb squad tied the school record by making 15 threes in 29 attempts in the win over Hampton on Nov. 25. That tied the 15 three-pointers Virginia made in 32 attempts against North Carolina on Feb. 14, 1990.

Rookie Adam Hall was perfect from behind the line, hitting all five attempts. His performance tied two other players for the best perfect game in school history.

Willie Dersch made a run at Hall’s record against Elon. Dersch connected on his first six three-pointers, but missed his last three to finish six of nine against the Fightin’ Christians. The Cavaliers tossed in 13 three-pointers (in 27 attempts) in the game.

Virginia made 11 of 22 three-point attempts against New Hampshire, with Hall leading the way again. The rookie from Katy, Texas, was true on all three of his attempts.

Virginia’s long range shooters connected on 10 threes (26 attempts) against Liberty earlier this month, marking the fourth time in a five-game span the Cavaliers made at least 10 threes in a game.The four games with at least 10 three-pointers already this season ties a rather curious school record. Virginia had four games of 10+ threes in 1995, ’96, and ’97.

Hunter 11th in Nation in Blocks
Junior center Kris Hunter fell ill during the Cavaliers’ recent trip to Alaska, missing one game as a result. He didn’t stay down long, though.

In UVa’s 116-66 win over Hampton on November 25, he gave the Cavaliers a big spark off the bench. Head coach Pete Gillen labeled Hunter, “the star of the game.” The tallest player on the team (and the only healthy scholarship player taller than 6-6), he scored seven points, tied his career high with nine rebounds and rejected a career-high six shots.

He was an influence inside as UVa started three guards against Elon, scoring 10 points, pulling down six rebounds and blocking one shot in just 19 minutes of action.

The Tallahassee, Fla., native was one of three Cavaliers to lead the team with 16 points against New Hampshire four games ago. He also pulled down seven rebounds and swatted five shots to make his presence felt inside.

Hunter is 11th in the nation in blocked shots, averaging 3.4 per game with 34 blocks in 10 games.

He has blocked five shots in three of the last four games. He rejected a career-high six shots vs. Hampton.

One of the fastest shot blockers in the ACC, Hunter has turned away 34 shots in just 244 minutes this season. That’s one every 7.2 minutes.

Hunter is second on the team in rebounding (5.4 rpg) and averages 7.7 ppg.

Character Builders
The last few months have certainly been character builders for head coach Pete Gillen, his staff and the Cavaliers. Perhaps that’s what you can expect when you open the season on Friday the 13th.First, Gillen had a roster that included just seven scholarship players for this season and two of the players were incoming freshmen. A tryout was held in October to add enough players to fill out the roster.

Then in mid-August, University Hall was closed for approximately two months for structural repairs. The repairs forced the team to begin its preseason practice at an on-Grounds recreation center.Two days after the season opener, starting center Colin Ducharme slipped on some wet steps and broke his ankle. He has since had surgery and is out for an indefinite time.

The recent trip to Alaska for the Top of the World Classic presented additional bad news. Three Cavaliers, Willie Dersch, Kris Hunter and Chris Williams, became ill shortly after UVa’s first round loss to Arkansas and had to be hospitalized. Hunter missed the game against Wisconsin the next day, while Dersch and Williams played but were not at full strength.

All told, Virginia played three games in 41 hours in Alaska.The bad luck continued on December 1 against Florida State as Chezley Watson sprained his right ankle midway in the first half and missed the rest of the game, reducing UVa’s number of available scholarship players to five. Watson missed two games and returned to action against St. John’s two weeks ago.

Rebounding a Challenge for Small Line-Up
With only seven scholarship players on the roster, the Cavaliers suffer from a sheer lack of numbers. The roster includes seven walk-on players, including five selected in October following a tryout from among the student body.

The Cavaliers feature only two players taller than 6-8, but only Kris Hunter is available for action. (Colin Ducharme is out with a broken ankle.)

In UVa’s four losses, the Cavaliers have been out-rebounded by 58 boards (14.5/g). This figures is skewed somewhat by the St. John’s game where the Red Storm out-rebounded Virginia by 31. St. John’s retrieved 31 of its own misses, four more rebounds than Virginia grabbed on both ends of the floor. The rebound difference of 31 is tied for the 10th-biggest rebound margin against the Cavaliers in school history.

In its seven wins, UVa has out-rebounded the opposition by 25 (3.6/g).

Dawn of a New Era
The Pete Gillen Era is in its early stages at the University of Virginia. Gillen was named the ninth head coach in school history on March 28, 1998, replacing Jeff Jones, who resigned following last season. Gillen brings impressive coaching credentials to Charlottesville.

The Cavaliers are 7-4 this season and are playing an up-tempo brand of basketball, the likes of which have not been characteristic of Virginia hoops.

His career record in 14 seasons as a head coach is 281-132 (.680). Prior to coming to UVa, he coached at Providence where he guided the Big East Conference school to a four-year record of 72-53. Two years ago he led the Friars to the NCAA’s “Elite Eight” where they lost in overtime to eventual national champion Arizona in the finals of the Southeast Regional. Under his direction, Providence competed in the NIT in 1995 and 1996.

Gillen’s success at Providence came on the heels of a remarkable nine-year stint as head coach at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, he became the winningest coach in the school’s history with an overall record of 202-75.

Gillen led the small Catholic institution to unprecedented national success. The Musketeers participated in the NCAA Tournament seven times and reached the Midwest Regional semifinals in 1990. Gillen led Xavier to six regular season conference championships and five conference tournament championships.

Walk-on Tryouts Held
With a roster that featured just eight scholarship players (only seven can play) and two walk-ons, the Virginia coaching staff conducted tryouts among the UVa student body to round out the roster for the upcoming season. Approximately 40 candidates showed up for the open tryouts on October 20.

Five members of the student body survived a round of drills and interviews to make the team.

The quintet chosen following the tryout join sophomore Greg Lyons and freshman Cade Lemcke to give head coach Pete Gillen and his staff a total of seven walk-on players to use in game preparation.Gillen readily concedes that playing time for these players may be limited. Josh Hare has seen the most action. He has played in every game (started vs. Wisconsin and Elon) and is averaging 22.8 minutes per game. He is averaging 4.0 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.Raleigh Harbour, a fifth-year student, was pressed into action due to Kris Hunter’s illness and started against Wisconsin. He played 14 minutes, but did not score. He scored his first collegiate points against Liberty.

Jason Dowling (seven games) and Brandon Lloyd (five games) have each tossed in one field goal. Dowling scored a three-pointer vs. Wisconsin, while Lloyd put the Cavaliers over the century mark against Elon.

Local product Marcus Martin, a high school star at Western Albemarle, has been slowed recently by an injury, but got the first bucket of his college career against New Hampshire.The five successful walk-on candidates are listed below.

#  Name          Pos.   Ht. Wt. Yr. Hometown 5 Brandon Lloyd   G/F  6-4 184 Fr. Springfield, Va.21 Jason Dowling   G/F  6-2 191 Fr. Brooklyn, N.Y.22 Josh Hare        G   6-2 197 So. Vernon, Conn.25 Marcus Martin    F   6-5 218 Fr. Charlottesville, Va.55 Raleigh Harbour  F   6-8 217 Sr. Hinsdale, Ill.

Hand Sees Scoring Zoom
Sophomore point guard Donald Hand was not much of a scoring threat last season. With Norman Nolan and Curtis Staples leading the way last winter, Hand wasn’t called on to score much and averaged just 4.7 ppg.

This season is a different story. With new head coach Pete Gillen’s up-tempo style, Hand is now asked to score and distribute the ball.With the added responsibility, Hand has seen a dramatic rise in his scoring. He is tied with Chris Williams for the team lead, averaging 18.5 ppg.

So far Hand’s increased scoring (13.8 ppg) this season is the greatest scoring increase in school history.

A listing of the top improvements in UVa history are below. (This list doesn’t include players who missed significant parts of a season due to injury, i.e. Cory Alexander.)

    Player           +PPG1.  Donald Hand      13.8     1997-98          4.7     1998-99         18.52.  Bill Gerry       13.2     1968-69          4.5     1969-70         17.73.  John Gidding     10.6     1967-68          3.9     1968-69         14.54.  Richard Morgan   10.3     1987-88         10.1     1988-89         20.4
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